Charteris not worried by injury

by Staff Writer

Wales second row Luke Charteris is not about to let a shoulder injury keep him out of the biggest game of his flourishing career - this Saturday's World Cup semi-final against France.

However, the 28-year-old, who suffered the injury in the quarter-final win against Ireland last Saturday at Wellington Regional Stadium, has welcomed the rest since that famous victory.

"It is pretty sore, but it should be good to go,'' said Charteris ahead of this Saturday's last-four clash against Les Bleus at Eden Park.

The Welsh expect another bruising encounter against the French, but the fired-up Dragons head into what has been described as the biggest game ever in the country's rich rugby history on a high.

"We have been pretty confident since we beat Samoa,'' said Charteris, referring to their Pool D victory back on 18 September, in which Wales had to rally for the 17-10 win. "We put a lot of work in and so far all is going to plan. There are two big games to go."

But Charteris and his teammates are not about to get ahead of themselves as they realise the French will be right up for this match after surprisingly defeating England at the weekend in their last-eight fixture.

Massive match

While this is the first semi-final appearance for Wales since 1987, Charteris said no one in the squad is looking ahead to the final, even though he knows that is what Welsh fans have on their minds.

"It would be massive,'' said Charteris when asked about what the reaction would be in Wales should the team advance. "The team in 1987 got to the semi-finals and they lost there. Unfortunately, we have not been back since then and we are aware of that.

"For a lot of us, this is our first World Cup. We just want to keep going on. There were 20 teams when this started and now we are down to four. We want to be there when it gets down to two and then it is anybody's game."

As for the French, Charteris knows his injured shoulder is likely to take some additional battering from their forwards in what should be yet another bruising encounter.

"They are a quality team. The boys they have playing there are great and there is probably no better team in the world on paper. They are hard to beat and it will be another tough one, but the boys are confident,'' added Charteris.

The Welsh side is a tight-knit group that has grown on and off the pitch since they started down the road to Saturday's semi-final at Eden Park four months ago.

Staying relaxed

"Teams progress and the longer you are together, the better you get and hopefully it is the same for us as it is for them,'' said Charteris, who was just four years old when Wales last made a World Cup semi-final.

As the game draws nearer, nerves may play a part in the pre-game hype, but Charteris said nothing will change in his preparations for the match.

"It can't. The coaches are trying to keep us relaxed. We will just enjoy the whole experience. It is new for us and (we are) just loving it at the moment," he added.

"We hope for a nice, dry evening and everything goes well."

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